The Liberated Action of the Supramental Consciousness

The mental consciousness is so involved in its own focused and limited forms of action that it cannot imagine the status of the supermind, which can take action to manifest a specific line of development, yet remain free and unbound, cognizant of other options, choices, directions or realities that are possible.  While the mind gets locked into a specific idea or program of action, the supermind, even when focused on achieving a very specific manifestation, is able to recognize the truths underlying the manifestations of the past, as well as present and future, and recognize further the circumstances by which they occur and for which they remain valid truths.

Western physics has been exploring the idea of multiple universes, each of which manifests different realities.  Such conceptualisation would be understood by the supramental consciousness.  The idea that a vast array of possibilities remain latent, and that the specific form of expression closes off those other latent options, but only for this time, in this universe, and under these circumstances, is one that would also be understood by the supermind.

Sri Aurobindo extrapolates on this theme:  “It is open, in a way and a degree to which the mind cannot attain, to the truth of other harmonies of creative becoming even while in its own it puts forth a decisive will and thought and action.  When it is engaged in action that is of the nature of a struggle, the replacing of past or other thought and form and becoming by that which it is appointed to manifest, it knows the truth of what it displaces and fulfils even in displacing, as well as the truth of what it substitutes.  It is not bound by its manifesting, selecting, pragmatic conscious action, but it has at the same time all the joy of a specially creative thought and selective precision of action, the Ananda of the truth of the forms and movements equally of its own and of others’ becoming.  All its thought and will of life and action and creation, rich, manifold, focussing the truth of many planes, is liberated and illumined with the illimitable truth of the Eternal.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pg. 816


The Nature and Character of the Supermind

The human mind creates distinctions and tends to oppose them, one to another.  Thus, there is a separation between the Eternal and the temporal, between the Infinite Existence and the finite, transitory forms of the world.  The mind separates past, present and future and, when it becomes absorbed in a particular motion, action or process, it loses awareness of other aspects of existence.

The supermind, however, resides always in a full awareness of the Eternal, while at the same time it has the ability to choose and create forms, beings and actions in the manifestation of the universal creation through the instrumentality of Time.

Sri Aurobindo describes the nature and character of the supermind:  “It does not live only in what it is and thinks and does selectively in the present or on  one plane only of being; it does not feed its existence only on the present or the continual succession of moments to whose beats we give that name.  It does not see itself only as a movement of Time or of the consciousness in time or as a creature of the perpetual becoming.  It is aware of a timeless being beyond manifestation and of which all is a manifestation, it is aware of what is eternal even in Time, it is aware of many planes of existence; it is aware of past truth of manifestation and of much truth of being yet to be manifested in the future, but already existing in the self-view of the Eternal.  It does not mistake the pragmatic reality which is the truth of action and mutation for the sole truth, but sees it as a constant realisation of that which is eternally real.  It knows that creation whether on the plane of matter or of life or of mind or of supermind is and can be only a self-determined presentation of eternal truth, a revelation of the Eternal, and it is intimately aware of the pre-existence of the truth of all things in the Eternal.  This seeing conditions all its pragmatic thought and its resultant action.  The maker in it is a selective power of the seer and thinker, the self-builder a power of the self-seer, the self-expressing soul a power of the infinite spirit.  it creates freely, and all the more surely and decisively for that freedom, out of the infinite self and spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pp. 815-816

The Unification of Ideative Knowledge and Pragmatic Implementation of the Supermind

The mental consciousness has a gulf between the ideative action of the mind and the implementation into the world of manifestation.  The abstractions developed in the higher mental activities are rarely able to take any real form in the world, and there is thus a disconnect between thought and action.  This is one of the inherent limitations of the mental consciousness.

For the supermind, however, there is no such disconnect.  The supermind lives in oneness with the higher spiritual existence, its knowledge is therefore a knowledge by identity and its action is a precise carrying out of the intention of the Spirit in the appropriate time, space and circumstance that is required.  The limitations of the manifested activity are self-designed to present just what is required at that moment, without losing thereby the inherent awareness of both the Oneness and the role that any specific form or force or action plays in the rolling out of the universal creation through Time.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The result of this wholeness is that there is no division or incompatibility between the free essential ideation of the supermind corresponding to the mind’s pure ideation, free, disinterested, illimitable, and its creative, pragmatic ideation purposeful and determinative.  The infinity of being results naturally in a freedom of the harmonies of becoming.  The supermind perceives always action as a manifestation and expression of the Self and creation as a revelation of the Infinite.  All its creative and pragmatic thought is an instrument of the self’s becoming, a power of illumination for that purpose, an intermediary between the eternal identity and infinite novelty and variety of illimitable Being and its self-expression in the worlds and life.  It is this that the supermind constantly sees and embodies and while its ideative vision and thought interpret to it the illimitable unity and variety of the Infinite, which it is by a perpetual identity and in which it lives in all its power of being and becoming, there is constantly too a special creative thought, associated with an action of the infinite will, Tapas, power of being, which determines what it shall present, manifest or create out of the infinity in the course of Time, what it shall make–here and now or in any range of Time or world–of the perpetual becoming of the self in the universe.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pp. 814-815

The Walls of the Mind–the Freedom of the Supermind

Whether it is habitual patterns or a fixed ideology, creed, or belief system, the human mind requires a framework within which to limit its action.  The disruption of that framework creates extreme discomfort for the mind, and this can be in the form of disorientation or a feeling of chaos and confusion which makes effective mental action well nigh impossible.  The wisdom traditions of the world tend to recognize this when they indicate that one should not undermine a person’s belief system if one is not capable of replacing it with another.  Those who have their fixed belief systems disturbed may tend towards extreme and unregulated behavior that is destructive to themselves or others, and they may feel lost and unable to function effectively.  Even spiritual seekers, while they remain rooted in the mind, are more comfortable having a pattern, routine or practice laid out for them to follow.  If they escape this framework without shifting the standpoint to the supramental, they frequently begin to believe that the world and its forms are simply illusory in nature.   This is the nature of the mind.

The supermind, on the other hand, functions without these limitations as Sri Aurobindo intimates:  “…the supermind is not bound by any representation of system, though it is perfectly able to represent and to arrange and construct in the living substance of the truth for the pragmatic purpose of the Infinite.”

“The mind assailed by the vastness and freedom of the supramental loses itself and finds no firm footing in the vastness.  The supermind, on the contrary, can in its freedom construct harmonies of its thought and expression of being on the firm ground of reality while still holding its infinite liberty and rejoicing in its self of infinite vastness.  All that it thinks, as all that it is and does and lives, belongs to the truth, the right, the vast, satyam, rtam, brhat.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pg. 814

Spiritual Reality and the Supermind

There is an air of “unreality” when the mind begins to work with concepts and abstractions that are not based on the physical world and the objects of the senses.  Not only is there a sense of being disconnected from the real world, but there is a tendency to have the mind wander off into speculations and ideas that are far removed from actuality.  While in some cases, these speculations move in an attempt to relate to the spiritual reality of the universal creation, in others they simply lose touch with both the physical reality and the spiritual truths.  It is therefore difficult, if not impossible, for the mind to grasp in any realistic way the reality of the spiritual truths that are experienced by the supramental consciousness.  For those who have had even a touch of spiritual experience from time to time, there is a recognition that things that seem abstract in a purely mental consciousness take on a reality and substance during the spiritual opening that is occurring.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “…the supermind lives in the spirit and therefore in the very substance of what these ideas and truths represent or rather fundamentally are and truly realises them, not only thinks but in the act of thinking feels and identifies itself with their substance, and to it they are among the most substantial things that can be.  Truths of consciousness and of essential being are to the supermind the very stuff of reality, more intimately and, as one might almost say, densely real than outward movement and form of being, although these too are to it movement and form of the reality and not, as they are to a certain action of the spiritualised mind, an illusion.  The idea too is to it real-idea, stuff of the reality of conscious being, full of power for the substantial rendering of the truth and therefore for creation.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pp. 813-814

The Character of the Supermind and Its Process of Thinking

While humanity primarily bases itself in the mental level of thought, whether predominantly the habitual, the pragmatic or the ideative gradations that take their starting point in the physical, vital and mental levels of existence, and thus, are inherently fragmented, separated and divided, the supramental mode of knowledge begins at the standpoint of the unity and oneness of all existence and the infinity and universality of life.  This represents what has been called a “reversal of consciousness” or a shift in standpoint from the human to the divine.

Sri Aurobindo describes the character that results from this shift of awareness to a new standpoint:  “The supermind…lives not in the phenomenal but in the essential, in the self, and sees all as being of the self and its power and form and movement, and all the thought and the process of the thought in the supermind must also be of that character.  All its fundamental ideation is a rendering of the spiritual knowledge that acts by identity with all being and of the supramental vision.  It moves therefore primarily among the eternal, the essential and the universal truths of self and being and consciousness and infinite power and delight of being (not excluding all that seems to our present consciousness non-being), and all its particular thinking originates from and depends upon the power of these eternal verities; but in the second place it is at home too with infinite aspects and applications, sequences and harmonies of the truths of being of the
Eternal.  It lives therefore at its heights in all that which the action of the pure ideative mind is an effort to reach and discover, and even on its lower ranges these things are to its luminous receptivity present, near or easily grasped and available.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pg. 813

Issues and Limitations in the Harmonious Integration of the Three Gradations of Mentality

Each human individual has the three gradations of habitual, pragmatic and ideative mentality as a potential capacity, but these are developed to different degrees and have a rather imperfect harmony in their action within that individual.  We can easily recognize the essential characteristics of each one of these mental types.  It is also easy to acknowledge that they do not tend to be integrated and balanced within a single individual.  So the essentially habitual patterns of the physical mentality dealing with the facts of the world find it hard to adapt to changing situations or unfamiliar circumstances where the pragmatic vital intellect will make adjustments.  The purely intellectual and ideative mentality tends to be both somewhat impractical and divorced to a great degree from the physical realities of the world, and this has led to the image of the intellectual locked away in his ivory tower, unable to cope with the world and its facts in any specific and detailed manner.  Each of these capacities has its role to play, and its inevitable limitations.  It would be more ideal if an individual could overcome the predilections of his basic mental constitution to be able to integrate all three powers appropriately into a unified and consistent action, but this remains elusive because of the basic nature of the action of the mentality.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “An accommodation of some kind is made, but the tyranny of the predominant tendency interferes with the wholeness and unity of the thinking being.  Mind fails to be assured master even of its own totality, because the secret of that totality lies beyond it in the free unity of the self, free and therefore capable of an infinite multiplicity and diversity, and in the supramental power that can alone bring out in a natural perfection the organic multiple movement of the self’s unity.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pp. 812-813

The Triple Action of the Normal Thought-Mind

Sri Aurobindo identifies three distinct levels or gradations of action of the normal thought-mind of the human individual.  These correspond roughly to the interaction between the mind and the physical, the pragmatic mind of development in the interaction between mind and life , and the mind acting on the purely mental level.

“First and lowest and most necessary to the mental being in the body is the habitual thought mind that founds its ideas upon the data given by the senses and by the surface experiences of the nervous and emotional being and on the customary notions formed by the education and the outward life and environment.  This habitual mind has two movements, one a kind of constant undercurrent of mechanically recurrent thought always repeating itself in the same round of physical, vital, emotional, practical and summarily intellectual notion and experience, the other more actively working upon all new experience that the mind is obliged to admit and reducing it to formulas of habitual thinking.  The mentality of the average man is limited by this habitual mind and moves very imperfectly outside its circle.”

A second grade of the thinking activity is the pragmatic idea mind that lifts itself above life and acts creatively as a mediator between the idea and the life-power, between truth of life and truth of the idea not yet manifested in life.  it draws material from life and builds out of it and upon it creative ideas that become dynamic for farther life development: on the other side it receives new thought and mental experience from the mental plane or more fundamentally from the idea power of the Infinite and immediately turns it into mental idea force and a power for actual being and living….The thought is only or mainly interesting to the soul on this mental level as a means for a large range of action and experience.”

A third gradation of thinking opens in us the pure ideative mind which lives disinterestedly in truth of the idea apart from any necessary dependence on its value for action and experience.  it views the data of the senses and the superficial inner experiences, but only to find the idea, the truth to which they bear witness and to reduce them into terms of knowledge.  It observes the creative power of mind in life in the same way and for the same purpose.  Its preoccupation is with knowledge, its whole object is to have the delight of ideation, the search for truth, the effort to know itself and the world and all that may life behind its own action and the world action.  This ideative mind is the highest reach of the intellect acting for itself, characteristically, in its own power and for its own purpose.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pp. 811-812

The Supermind and the Higher Functions of the Mind

At the highest reaches of the capacities of the human mind we find the power of the higher reason and the intellectual formulation of ideas.  These functions represent the most abstract aspects of the mentality, and operate more freely than those parts of the mentality which are bound to the physical world and the objects of the senses.  The first major influence of the supramental consciousness can most easily interface with these higher reaches of the mind, as they are not bound so tightly to the external and physical.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The mental activity that can be most readily organised is…that of pure ideative knowledge.  This is transformed on the higher level to the true jnana, supramental thought, supramental vision, the supramental knowledge by identity.”

This action transforms the mental consciousness:  “It differs from the action of the mind first in this respect that it works naturally with those operations that are to the mind the highest and the most difficult, acting in them or on them from above downward and not with the hampered straining upward of the mind or with its restriction to its own and the inferior levels.  The higher operations are not dependent on the lower assistance, but rather the lower operations depend on the higher not only for their guidance but for their existence.  The lower mental operations are therefore not only changed in character by the transformation, but are made entirely subordinate.  And the higher mental operations too change their character, because, supramentalised, they begin to derive their light directly from the highest, the self-knowledge or infinite knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pp. 810-811

The Transformation and Liberation of the Powers of Human Consciousness Through the Advent of the Supermind

Consciousness is an unbroken continuum from the lowest depths of material consciousness to the heights of the supermind.  This implies that the supermind can relate to and have its impact on each level of awareness in existence.  Human awareness is circumscribed by the fragmented nature of its action, and this limits both the upper ranges of consciousness and the larger action that is currently occult or subliminal and which therefore is treated as something abnormal when it breaks out and manifests in some form.  The supramental consciousness, by nature of its greater range and power, is able to both transform the mental awareness and liberate and integrate those powers now considered psychic or occult.

Sri Aurobindo explains:  “…when we rise from mind to supermind, the new power of consciousness does not reject, but uplifts, enlarges and transfigures the operations of our soul and mind and life.  it exalts and gives to them an ever greater reality of their power and performance.  it does not limit itself either to the transformation of the superficial powers and action of the mind and psychic parts and the life, but it manifests and transforms also those rarer powers and that larger force and knowledge proper to our subliminal self that appear now to us as things occult, curiously psychic, abnormal.  These things become in the supramental nature not at all abnormal but perfectly natural and normal, not separately psychic but spiritual, not occult and strange, but a direct, simple, inherent and spontaneous action.  The spirit is not limited like the waking material consciousness, and the supermind when it takes possession of the waking consciousness, dematerialises it, delivers it from its limits, converts the material and the psychic into the nature of the spiritual being.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pg. 810